The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced in a January 2, 2009 press release its enforcement data for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008. In FY 2008, WHD recouped back wages totaling $185,287,827 for 228,645 workers.
WHD touted this statistic as a “40 percent increase over the FY 2001 figure.” The press release notes: “Since FY 2001, WHD has recouped more than $1.4 billion back wages for over two million workers.”
However, WHD has been the subject of recent criticism, and in its press release WHD failed to note that the 2008 figures represent a decrease from 2007. In FY 2007, WHD collected $220,613,703 for 341,624 workers. (Link to 2007 stats.)
Alexander J. Passantino, acting administrator for the Wage and Hour Division, offers the statistics in support of his request for additional funds to increase enforcement measures. “These continued strong enforcement results demonstrate that our comprehensive approach is working. We also urge Congress to provide the funds we have requested in the president’s FY 09 budget to hire additional investigators.”
President-elect Obama is likely to fulfill Passantino’s wishes, although Passantino will probably not be around to see it happen. In July 2008, responding to a Government Accountability Office report , Senator Obama sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, expressing concerns that the Department of Labor is not fulfilling its mission to prevent and remedy violations of federal minimum wage and overtime laws. In his letter, he was critical of Mr. Passantino’s testimony before a Senate committee.
“GAO’s conclusions about how the Department exercises its responsibilities to working Americans raise serious, but addressable, issues. Fixing these problems may require bipartisan cooperation, or in some cases additional funding, but other needed reforms are in the sole discretion of the Department, and can be instituted unilaterally.”
In December 2008, President-elect Obama named Democratic Rep. Hilda Solis of California to serve as labor secretary.
Christopher W. Olmsted, Esq.
Barker Olmsted & Barnier, APLC